Apple nabs Nike design director Ben Shaffer to work on wearable devices

“Apple has lured away top Nike design director Ben Shaffer, according to a source at Nike with knowledge of the details behind Shaffer’s departure,” Mark Gurman reports for 9to5Mac.

“At Nike, Shaffer was the Studio Director of the Innovation Kitchen,” Gurman reports “This is Nike’s research and development lab where new product designs are created. Under Shaffer’s lead, Nike was named the most innovative company in 2013 by Fast Company. Nike’s Innovation Kitchen has been responsible for wearable products like the popular Nike Fuel Band, and most recently, the Flyknit shoe.”

Gurman reports, “With Apple’s continued development of its own wearable watch-like device, Shaffer’s experience in working on the Fuel Band will be critical. The Nike Fuel Band is a popular product amongst Apple executives, including Apple CEO (and Nike Board member) Tim Cook and former Hardware lead Bob Mansfield. Based on Apple’s experience and usage of the Fuel Band product, it seems like that Apple’s own wearable computer will have similar fitness-tracking abilities. Furthermore, we recently reported that Apple hired the top fitness-expert (and Nike consultant) for the Fuel Band, Jay Blahnik.”

Nike+ Fuelband
Nike+ Fuelband

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is a big deal. This guy was Nike’s Jony Ive.

In April, Shaffer explained his role in Nike’s Innovation Kitchen design labs:

Related articles:
Apple hires Nike+ FuelBand developer Jay Blahnik – August 19, 2013
Nike: We’re not working on a Nike+ FuelBand app for Android – February 11, 2013
iWatch’s novelty emerges as Apple assembles team of sensor and fitness experts – July 18, 2013
Apple on aggressive hiring spree for smartwatch project, sources say – July 14, 2013
Live coverage of Tim Cook’s D11 appearance – May 28, 2013


    1. But Samesung, don’t forget, Apples will be small, so you should show your innovation and make it really big, like Note 3 big versus Apples little iPhone 4.

      Sadly, if something like that happened (probably not with the iDunce cap), analysts would say Samesung IS being innovative.

    1. At least a year I reckon.

      I take it this guy is working under jony Ive – there’s gonna be so e amazing stuff coming out of apple with jony ive’s minimalistic influences and this guy’s style.

      Really looking forward to an iWatch that is totally radical – unlike the shitstung watch which is a blatant ripoff of a 1980s digital watch.

      1. I must admit having looked at Samsung’s watch it is so useless and limited that it does seem that we are still some way from a launch of an Apple product that can beat the technical limitations apparent in the process, at least to a standard it can accept. That said it is clear now that a watch or something similar is indeed well advanced and that the technology is in the process of being conquered, you would not employ this guy or allow himself to be employed if there was not something pretty finalised enough for him to work with and develop in a compelling form in terms of marketability so yes a year seems a sensible timescale. That said it could be earlier, if he comes in to put a strong finishing touch to it and then work to take the whole concept/wearable business itself on from there using his skill base and what every one has learnt with this initial product. Makes a lot of sense, after all whatever it is its hardly going to be in a poor state of design in the labs considering Apple’s existing pool of talent.

  1. Working in, and supporting the creative industry myself, I’d give my left nut to be a fly on the wall when these guys are talking design and innovation. Can’t wait to see what these two beautiful minds come up with. No kick stands on those new devices now guys. Wouldn’t want to get sued by Microsoft for patent infringement.

        1. It does seem that their design skills are complimentary and Jony really cant expand into the wearable materials and hands on design aspects in any hands on way and I think this whole area should it initially take off will quickly develop into a whole new division in its own right probably like iTunes worth more than most competitors. Gotta plan for that now and make it more likly as you do so.

      1. They’re tennis shoes that people want. They’re tennis shoes that people pay a premium price for and treat as prized possessions and status symbols. Shaffer’s job will be to bring those qualities to the iWatch. It has to be something that people want to line up around the block for, something that people will proudly display on their wrists.

          1. To Bot: Innovation is the gain here…tennis shoes, or whatever. I’m a runner and having discovered an amazing shoe (for me) after 40 years of running, is a benefit parallel to using a phone that serves me very well day-to-day.

            Design skill isn’t just aesthetics and the surface…it’s the item throughout. This guy talks like he gets that, imo

  2. This is a game changer.

    I’ve been following this guy for years, his work and attitude to design is nearly on par with Jony Ive.

    Imagine the things those guys can create… Now imagine stuff that can’t be imagined and you’ll be only just appreciating the wavelength these guys are on.

    I hope to god he isn’t coming on board to replace jony.

  3. ‘ ……amongst Apple executives, including Apple CEO (and Nike Board member) Tim Cook and…………’

    wow! i guess Nike won’t be inviting Tim to dinner any time soon. I’m really excited Apple has him, but ….did Apple just pull an Eric Schmidt …well, not espionage but just sorta sounds unsavory ….can’t be that bad, right?

      1. I think that may depend on what if any role Nike will play in the new business that Apple is creating. It could be that they could have quite an input themselves if this has a strong sport and leisure bent to it that could dwarf the fuel band and its offshoots. If they have exclusive (at least initially) rights to sell some of this technology in its wears then it could take the opposition out almost instantly. The next few months will likely reveal the answer to that question I reckon but it could suit both parties.

        As for Jony Ive leaving well there were rumours a few years ago he was homesick and lets be honest he could open his own product design studio tomorrow and make it the most successful in the world pretty quick but I don’t think he would have got the promotion he got last year if he had any plans to do that any time soon. However if in a few years he did decide he wanted a change then at least there is other talent around to soften the blow now.

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